How to Sew an Envelope Pillow Cover

It was time to do something new to this fun, rectangle shaped pillow that rests on our bed. I found a lovely (and very farmhousey) fabric at my local craft store. It’s perfect for a new pillow cover!

I often get the urge to spruce up various items that have been in our home for awhile. It’s an inexpensive way to bring new life into a space without breaking the bank over new furniture and such! Check out these examples of DIY projects I’ve completed around here: How to Cover a Seat Cushion With Drop Cloth, How to Sew Cafe Curtains, Easy DIY Table Runner From Drop Cloth, DIY Bunting Garland, and much more!

This pillow cover is an ‘envelope style’. This simply means that the back panels overlap one another so the pillow insert can be removed if desired. I enjoy this kind of pillow cover because I can always make a few different ones for the changing seasons!

You’ll soon find that sewing your very own envelope pillow case is simple, rewarding, and much more inexpensive that purchasing all new pillows from the store!

Continue reading if you’re interested in sewing your own Envelope Pillow Cover! This is an easy-to-read tutorial with all of the needed supplies and steps listed out for you. Each step includes detailed pictures to aid you as much as possible in the process! This beautiful and functional pillow cover is so simple to sew and a lovely addition to any home. Now let’s sew!

How to Sew a Envelope Pillow Cover

Sewing Terminology

Right Side: The side that you want showing on the bag (also called the front side).
Wrong Side: The side of the fabric that you don’t want showing on the bag (also called the backside).
Seam: A line of junction formed by sewing together two pieces of material along their margins.
Topstitch: To make a line of stitching on the outside of (a garment) close to a seam
Backstitch: To move the stitch in a backward motion at the end of a seam. Sewing machines will have a small button or lever for this function

Needed Supplies:

  • Fabric that is washed, ironed
  • Pillow insert
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread

Cut List for a 28.5″ x 17″ Pillow Cover

  • One panel that is 29 inches long by 17.5 inches wide. This will be the front of the pillow cover.
  • Two panels that are 16.5 inches long by 17.5 inches wide. These will be the back of the pillow cover.


  • Your pillow is probably not the exact size that mine is. That’s ok! I’ll tell you exactly how to measure a pillow insert and how to add seam allowances to your measurements. This tutorial can be used on any size of pillow!
  • I chose to keep my pillow cover pretty simple, but feel free to add additional embellishments if desired. Ruffles, lace trimmings, stencils, and so on are a few examples.
  • If you’re new to sewing, I recommend avoiding striped fabrics for now. This kind of pattern can be much more difficult to line up correctly.
  • You can finish off the seams with a serger, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Serging simply adds more strength to the seam and also prevents the fabric from unraveling.


1. Begin by measuring your pillow insert.

  • Start at the seam of one side and measure across to the opposite side.
  • Repeat this step for both the long and short sides of the pillow if it is a rectangle.
  • These measurements will tell you how large to make your pillow cover.

2. Cut the fabric according to the measurements of your pillow insert.

If your pillow is not the exact size as the one I refer to in this tutorial, add the following amounts to your measurements before cutting the fabric:

The Front Panel: add 1/4 inch to each of the four sides. For example, my pillow insert measures at 28.5″ x 17″. My final cut for this piece will measure at 29″ x 17.5″. This gives you a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side for when we sew the seam later on.

The Back Panels: add 1/4 inch to 3 sides of these panels. Add two inches to the 1 remaining side of the panel (this should be the side that meets in the middle of the pillow cover). Repeat with the other back panel.

3. Create the hems on the back pieces.

  • Fold the 17.5 inch side of one of the back panels over 1/2 inch. Press into place.
  • Repeat the fold another 1/2 inch so that the raw edge is hidden inside the hem.
  • Iron or pin this hem into place.
  • Sew in place with a 1/4 inch seam
  • Repeat this process with the other back panel.
Here is the seam folded over 1/2 inch for the first time.
Here is the seam folded over 1/2 inch a second time. I’ve chosen to pin it into place before sewing. You can also iron to keep it in place.

4. Pin the Back Panels to the Front Panel

  • Place the back panels on top of the front panel (right sides together).
  • Make sure that the hemmed sides of the back panels are facing one another.
  • Pin the panels together around all the sides.
Here is the front panel laid with the right side facing up.
Here is the first back panel pinned to the front panel (right sides facing together).
Here are both pf the back panels pinned to the front panel (right sides facing together).

5. Sewing Around the Pillow Case

  • Sew around the sides of the pillow case with a 1/4 inch seam.
  • Forward and back stitch at the point where the two back panels overlap one another. This is simply for extra security.

6. Finishing Touches

  • Trim the 4 corners of the pillow cover. This will remove bulk fabric that can bunch up when the case is right side out.
  • Turn the pillow case right side out and insert your pillow.
Here is an example of how to trim the corners off of the pillow case.
Here you can see the finished product on the pillow insert. Notice how the two back panels overlap to create an ‘envelope’ style.

If you make this project and love how it turned out, feel free to come back and comment about your experience. I’d love to see your creation and how you used it!

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